Herbal Tea: Is it really good for you?

A few weeks ago I decided to start a bedtime routine to hopefully help me develop the habit of going to bed earlier. I’m a night owl, and I frequently would stay up past midnight. I wanted to change that – not by much, but if I can regularly go to bed by 11:00, that would be great.

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The routine I’ve established is to brush my teeth, wash/tone/moisturize my face, put on my PJs, and then prepare a relaxing cup of herbal tea. I sit in my recliner and slowly sip my tea – savoring it – being mindful. When I finish the tea, I rinse the cup and put it away, and then I go to bed.

The research behind establishing a bedtime routine is that our bodies become accustomed to the pattern. So once that herbal tea hits my system, my body says, “Okay, I’m sleepy! Go to bed, Carol!”

I’ve been doing better on WW since I started this routine. I don’t know if there is a connection between the two or not. However, it is working for me, and I’m enjoying the variety of herbal teas that I’m trying. I’m drinking herbal tea during the day, too. As the weather gets cooler, I will likely drink it even more often during the day.

At night, I choose from a selection of my bedtime teas

And I have to mention that one thing that piqued my interest in herbal teas is that I’m a fan of the History Channel’s show “Alone.” And this past season, so many of the contestants talked about making tea from the plants they found growing around them. “How to make teas” was probably one of the topics that they covered in their “boot camp” before the competition started. And I can understand how knowing which plants to use and how to make the tea would be beneficial in a situation such as that.

This afternoon, I started researching herbal teas. I haven’t read much about them before now. I was eager to find out if herbal teas offer any concrete health benefits. And, by George, they do!

First of all, herbal teas aren’t really teas because they aren’t made from tea leaves. They’re called “tisanes” (I’ve never heard or seen that word before!) or, in more familiar language, they are “infusions.” They can be made from edible spices, herbs, fruit, bark, roots, flowers, or any combination of the aforementioned. An infusion allows you to enjoy the benefits of a plant in an easily digestible form. And just about everything I read extolled the benefits – even including the fact that usually if you’re drinking herbal tea, you’re not eating. Thus, it may help to control weight. LOL! “May” being the operative word in that last sentence.

I went on a bit of a buying spree when I decided to become an herbal tea drinker. I’d had some Two Leaves and a Bud tea at a restaurant a few years ago, and I loved it. So I got some of their “Better Belly Blend” and some “Chamomile.” Then I asked my Facebook friends for herbal tea recommendations, and bought some that they recommended.

Since stomach issues have always been a part of my life, I have a selection of teas that aid digestion. These are the ones I drink after meals. I can testify that they DO help!

The composition of an herbal tea determines the health benefits. For example, chamomile is good for relaxation, while ginger helps with digestion. Here’s a chart with some of the more popular herbal tea ingredients.

What is Herbal Tea? Benefits and Characteristics | Full ...

The good news is that herbal teas are very popular, and you can find high quality teas in most grocery stores. Of course, you can get just about all of them from Amazon, although often you have to buy more than one box of them – which makes it a little less tempting. When you only drink 2-3 cups a day, you don’t need a dozen 15-bag boxes!

I wanted a tea box to hold all my teas! I love this one because it hold lots of varieties, and I can easily replace teas as I use them.

There are blends for just about everything. I bought some for sleep and some for digestion, but I also got a detox tea, and some that would perk me up a little, if needed.

Other teas I drink occasionally

I wanted a special cup for my tea, and decided this one that I made at Third Coast Clay when I went there with my 10-year old granddaughter in August was perfect. It’s the right size, and it is now my official tea cup.

Weekly weigh-in – 10/9/2020

Another week, and thanks to being in fairly significant pain for four of those days, I lost more weight than has been typical so far. Almost to ten pounds total.

I’m looking forward to the next week – feeling good, doing more walking, getting into my anti-gout routine, and I will also be getting into more art classes.

Time Out – Got Gout!

Last week I was so gung-ho – feeling good and energetic. Then Saturday morning came, and suddenly I couldn’t walk. I don’t mean that it hurt to walk. It means I went to bed Friday night feeling just fine. I woke up Saturday morning and literally could not walk because my left foot was so painful. It was red, swollen, and when I tried to walk, it felt like daggers through my whole foot. Even sitting still with it elevated and with cold packs on it, it throbbed with pain. So I spent Saturday, Sunday, and Monday sitting and sleeping – with as few trips to the bathroom that I could manage. That was the extent of what I could do.

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Tuesday morning (yesterday) I finally got in to see an orthopedist. I thought perhaps I had a stress fracture or a bad sprain. However, it is gout. Gout is caused by too much uric acid in my system. The doctor gave me steroids, and my foot is much better today. I’ve been reading up on how to prevent gout.

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Preventing gout has implications for my WW lifestyle because, for me, it’s mostly about food choices. The doctor may prescribe medication – but not for now. I’ve been looking at the graphic above on the foods to avoid. I have no problem with alcohol, liver, salmon. However, poultry and fish – especially tuna and Halibut – have been mainstays of my WW meals. And I have bacon (red meat) almost every morning. I will definitely need to re-evaluate my menus.

I drove today for the first time since Friday – picked up some groceries I ordered last night. I had tart cherry juice in the order since numerous people told me cherry juice was key in keeping gout away.

I’ve stuck with WW throughout this time. In fact, the pain made me feel less hungry. Thus I had leftover points at the end of several of the past few days. Up to 4 unused daily points can be rolled over into weekly points each day, and now my weekly points are up to 44 from 35. Hopefully I will have a good weight loss this week because of less eating.

I’m on the mend – just taking a little break from posting. My mind couldn’t concentrate on writing when I was in significant pain. LOL! Can’t imagine why.

Big shout-out to my husband, Ron, who has taken excellent care of me – he has cooked for me, brought me drinks and pillows and ice packs – helped me put on the orthopedic boot my daughter loaned me. Ron drove to Larisa’s house to get the orthopedic boot for me – and later he drove across town to get a scooter so I could get around a little more easily.

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What will I change? Here are six changes I will start today:

(1) I’m going to experiment with a sugar-free cherry and nonfat Greek yogurt something-or-other for breakfast. I will see what I can come up with.

(2) I will switch from pork bacon to chicken bacon. Chicken bacon isn’t quite as good, but daily pork bacon isn’t worth having another Gout flare-up.

(3) I’m upping the apple cider vinegar gummies and vitamin C gummies that I take each day since both of those are part of the preventive regimen.

(4) I’m also adding tart cherry juice to my daily menu. It’s 2 points for every 1/3 cup I drink. I will research to find out how much I should drink each day.

(5) I will research to determine what other supplements will be helpful.

(6) I will add more low-fat dairy, whole grain breads, and vegetables.

October Goals

September has come and gone, and a new month has begun. Here are my goals for October:

  1. Make a list of meals that work for me. I want to plan ahead so I don’t waste so much food. Those plans will be food that I like.  I started on this last night – writing out meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with snacks and desserts. I plan to convert them to pdf and post them on this website.
  2. Build on the exercise routine I started in September. That means doing circuit work in my exercise room, along with having the goal of at least 5K steps each day.
  3. Continue with self-care routines – skin care, bedtime herbal tea, prayer and meditation time each day.

I will stop there. My tendency is to go overboard on plans, but the reality is that they need to be kept small and do-able.

Small Steps – 3rd Month

Another month – more weight gone. September has been the “hump” month. July and August were the beginner months. I was full of enthusiasm and there was no temptation for me to stray.  I had the beginner’s energy and motivation. September came, and some tedium set in. I am pleased that I persevered. I kept at it. After all, I reasoned, this is what I plan to do the rest of my life – track my food and be mindful about eating. So I tracked it all – even the days I used lots of weekly points – even the two weigh-ins during the month when I gained weight.

With the month being such a challenge, I’m thrilled that I ended up with a loss at all.  I had some NSVs this month (non-scale victories), as well. 

  1. I worked more on self-care. I started a skin care routine. Since the first of September, I’ve had a nightly ritual of washing my face with a good quality cleanser, using a toner and night cream on my face. I spent my 71 years taking my good skin for granted. I have always worn makeup every day, but I rarely took it off before going to bed. I’d take off the old makeup immediately before putting on fresh makeup each morning. No more. 
  2. Part of my self-care has been another nightly routine of sipping a large cup of herbal tea prior to going to bed. That’s actually rather funny because I had a box of herbal teas that sat on my kitchen counter for a couple years, and I never drank any of it. So I gave it away a few months ago. Now I’m drinking it every night. That’s okay, though. A new box should be delivered today, and I already have the teas the fill it. 
  3. I have been exercising more. Not a lot, but I’ve made a start, and that’s good. We have a great exercise room with all the equipment I could ever want. So I have no excuse for not exercising. 
  4. I’ve gotten back into reading the Bible and having a morning devotional. That’s something I’ve done off and on for a long time. I’ve been consistent with it the past month.

So, even with the challenges, I am pleased with how September ended.  The total weight I’ve lost since I began on July 19th is 8.4 lbs. Slow and steady . . . . 

 

You’ve got to get momentum

idenk > Supporting Teams > Are You In A FFO?The dictionary defines momentum as “strength or force gained by motion or by a series of events.” After two weeks of gaining weight while completely sticking to my WW plan, I realized my enthusiasm for sticking with my commitment was compromised – and I yielded to that lack of enthusiasm over the weekend. It’s almost humorous to think of the things that I eat when I’m feeling defeated.  It varies. This time it was Rice Krispies Treats. I actually lost count of how many I ate. I logged it as 8, and I think that’s accurate . . . but I’m not 100% sure.

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I was starting down a familiar path – that of thinking about what a loser I am – except for weight – can’t seem to lose that. How I start things and don’t finish them. How I have never successfully lost weight and kept it off long term. Those voices in my head were gaining strength.

I stopped, though. Did I want those voices to gain momentum like they have in the past, or did I want to change direction and gain momentum in a positive direction?

You know what stopped me? Last week in one of the Facebook WW groups that I’m in, someone wrote something about how we should stand naked in front of mirror and name ten positive things about our bodies. I did that a few days ago – and I couldn’t come up with ten. I could only see the negatives – the extra weight, the scars, the blemishes. I wondered if maybe in my heart I feel I don’t “deserve” to be at a healthy weight.  I also wondered what made me become so hard on myself – so critical and unforgiving. Why is self-judgment my go-to response?

This morning when I woke up, I knew I had to stop, change course, and build some momentum away from Rice Krispies Treats and towards success. One success builds momentum towards another success. It all goes back to the Atomic Habits I’ve written about several times before.

So I logged my breakfast, and then left to run a bunch of errands – first I had a dentist appointment, then to the post office and UPS office to mail packages. I picked up some papers at my husband’s office and made a quick grocery store stop for fish and some herbal teas.  Except for the dentist office, those were errands I’d been putting off since last week. I got it all done. I felt good about handling so many little nagging errands. I stopped by Chick Fil A and had their grilled chicken nuggets for lunch. I got only the nuggets. No, I assured them, I didn’t want to “make it a meal” with fries and a coke.

7 Techniques How To Get Motivated To Do Anything

I came home and felt good. I did some work around the house, took a 20-minute nap and, with my husband, planned our dinner.

Today was my STOP-REASSESS-CHANGE COURSE day. I started with a small act (handing errands I had been procrastinating on since last week). I continued to build momentum by sticking to only grilled chicken for lunch.  And then I had fish and vegetables for dinner. Snacks were all low point and moderate-sized servings. I’m ending the day having used only 19 of my 23 daily points. The extra points will roll over into my weekly points, which is good since I used so many weekly points yesterday.

Momentum. I learned I can get it back or shift its direction simply by stopping and deliberately doing something in the direction I want to go. That success moves me to another success, and so it goes.

And one day soon, I intend to do the naked-in-front-of-the-mirror thing again. This time I will come up with ten positive things. After all, this body has seen me through 71+ years of life, it grew two amazing babies, rocked children and later grandchildren to sleep. I like my green eyes and the fact that my hair has just a little natural curl to it. That’s a good start.

Being overweight is hard. Losing weight is hard. I have to choose my hard, and I choose losing weight.

 

Weekly Weigh-In, 9/25/2020, 10 weeks

Sigh. So here’s today’s weigh-in numbers. Notice the +.  I have tracked every single bite I’ve put into my mouth since July 19th.  I have not gone over my points a single week.

I’m probably eating too much fruit – lots of watermelon and grapes the past week. Seriously, though, would watermelon and grapes cause two weeks of weight gain?

Ten weeks – that makes an average of .68 lbs. per week. STILL over 1/2 pound a week. But . . . that’s so slow . . . . Sigh.

So I will repeat the usual self-reassurances: It’s a marathon, not a sprint.  It’s a lifestyle change, not a diet. Look at the big picture. Back in July, you would have been thrilled to weigh what you weigh now. And repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

What can I do differently so that next Friday I will be happy with the number on the scale? Three things:

  1. I still haven’t been exercising, and that is something I want to make a life-long thing. This week – starting TODAY – I will exercise – aerobics and strength training.  Atomic exercise habits.
  2. I will better manage my zero-point foods. They still have calories, and so limiting them to a few servings a day would be good. My goal is to get my body accustomed to less food. So I want to work on reducing the amount I eat – not just substituting healthier snacks.
  3. Drink more water.

 

Fast Food – Low Points

I had fast food after an appointment today. Fast food for lunch – and it was only 3 points.  I ate AFTER I made the video, and I ended up eating only half the salad.  So , in the video I say it’s 4 points. However, my actual points were:

sauces for dipping chicken (1/2 barbecue packet & 1/2 zesty buffalo packet) = 1 point

1/2 of side salad = 2 pts

Everything else was 0 points (grilled chicken, and lettuce, tomatoes in salad, and less than 1/2 of the light Italian dressing packet)

It was a filling lunch. I’ve really enjoyed Chick Fil A’s grilled chicken nuggets lately!

 

 

7-Point Pizza (WW Blue)

I made personal pizzas tonight – one for my husband and one for me.  Pizza is one of my all time favorite dishes!  The last time we had pizza was during the summer when I ordered one from Domino’s Pizza, and it was less than delicious. It was so bad, in fact, that it turned me off from wanting pizza for a couple months.  However, lately after eating so much chicken and tuna and lean beef, I have yearned for something a little more indulgent.

After reading about 2-ingredient dough, and then researching and finding an even better (supposedly) dough recipe, I decided to give home-made pizza another try.

First the dough. I got the recipe from My Bizzy Kitchen. Here’s that recipe:

Dough:

2 cups self-rising flour

1 teaspoon yeast

1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup Fage Fat Free Greek Yogurt

1/2 – 3/4 cup warm water

  • Heat oven to 450 (see notes).
  • In a bowl, mix the flour, salt and yeast together. Stir in the yogurt and mix until it starts to combine. Start with 1/2 a cup of water and see how the dough comes together. If there is still a bit of loose flour in the bowl, add a couple tablespoons of water at a time, until it forms a ball.
  • This dough can be used within an hour of making, but truth be told, I normally don’t use it until day 2 or 3. On the first day I let it rise in my microwave all day, then store it in a ziplock bag.
  • On the day of baking, add a tablespoon of flour on your counter. Wet your hands and grab desired amount of dough for your pizza. Most of my individual pizzas are 5 ounces. Top with desired toppings and bake for 10 minutes, or until desired doneness.

I didn’t  put my dough in the microwave to rise. As a matter of fact, I didn’t let it rise at all because we were making pizza right away.

I divided the dough into four equal parts. We used two of those for our two individual pizzas tonight. I put the other two parts in a Ziplock bag in the refrigerator for pizza later this week. (Note added: We used the extra dough three days later for another two pizzas, and it was perfect! So it keeps well in the fridge for at least three days). The flour is the only ingredient with points. So each of the four parts contain 1/2 cup self-rising flour – which is 5 points on WW Blue Plan.

The photo above shows our two pizzas ready to go in the oven. That’s mine on the bottom – and Ron’s at the top. He added additional sauce on top of his other ingredients. It looks like a barbecue pizza, but it isn’t – just lots of pizza sauce! That’s because he doesn’t usually each much pizza crust because of his blood sugar. Thus, he wanted to be sure he had plenty of the toppings.

In the photo above, the pizzas are on a pizza stone that I bought from Pampered Chef years ago. I had put the pizza stone in the oven while I made the dough. So it was piping hot when we put the dough on it.

I sprayed my hands with butter flavored Pam to smooth out the dough on the pizza stone. Then once we had it spread out, my husband and I added our favorite toppings.

Toppings

These are the toppings I put on my pizza:

Onion, finely chopped (0 points)

fresh spinach, torn into small pieces (0 points)

fresh chopped tomatoes (0 points)

Ragu Homemade style Pizza Sauce (1 point for 1/4 cup)

Sargento Light mozzarella string cheese (1 point per stick), cut crossways into thin circles. In the photo above, you can see the small circles of mozzarella.

3/8 oz Cabot Cheese, Sharp Cheddar, 75% Reduced Fat (0 points for 3/8 oz.)

At the top of this post is a photo of my baked and ready-to-eat pizza. I forgot to take a photo until I had cut it and put the pieces on a plate.  It was delicious! The crust has a little bit of a tangy taste from the yogurt. I really liked it. One great thing about this recipe is that the dough took only a few minutes to put together. And, of course, the toppings were delicious.

And the best thing of all is that the whole pizza is only 7 points. My first pizza in over two months. And I still have 5 points left for today!